On Father’s day my dad will have been gone almost two decades longer than I knew him. I cannot reconcile that fact. I cannot stop myself from seeing him lying there beneath the thin blue blanket in the hospital, his face still tan against that starched white pillow. Even now I frantically pull us from that room, back, back, back to when he was well. When he was laughing on the lawn doing a Russian dance or playing Gin with his close friend Dick, the two of them slapping cards down and swearing. When he read bedtime stories to my sister and me in a dramatic voice, the cat puppet on his left hand. When he picked me up from camp, kneeling in the driveway so I could run to him after those interminable weeks, or when he checked beneath my bed for monsters. When he was just my dad who would appear at the top of the stairs when I called him. That was thirty-seven years ago.
The last Father’s day gift I gave him was an audio tape I made pretending I was various relatives that he had neglected to call. I remember him sitting up in his hospital bed pushing the play button of the tape recorder and chuckling away with each imitation I’d done. He kept asking me how I got the phone to ring and then he would laugh some more. That memory so clear, even now. My dad, the tape recorder on his chest and his laughter that could be heard all the way down those pastel colored halls.